Good urban design boosts wellbeing
We need to be creating active cities active environments and active people, because as Professor Billie Giles-Corti from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Centre for Urban Research explained to more than 150 people at last week’s Future Thinkers event: “if there is one thing you can do for your health it is be physically active – it is like a magic bullet.”
Billie is a world-leading expert on creating healthy liveable cities and was the keynote speaker at Renewal SA’s Urban Design and Wellbeing session.
She was joined by a panel featuring Gabrielle Kelly, founder and former director of the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre of South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Karina Lester of the University of Adelaide’s Mobile Language Team, and architect Richard Stranger of Renewal SA.
Professor Giles-Corti explained how walkable, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods with diverse destinations and more amenity encourages people to walk and be active and have the potential to improve public health.
“Our communities need to be designed with physical activity in mind,” she said.
The incorporation of walking and cycle paths, open space, parks and places for sport, encourage residents to be physically and socially active and significantly contribute to quality of life and health outcomes within the urban renewal projects that Renewal SA delivers.
“We find that there is a greater level of wellbeing in areas where there is more social infrastructure, this is closely aligned to the level of density in a particular area.
“Higher density provides the opportunity to have diverse destinations and more amenity within closer proximity to people’s homes, meaning people are more likely to walk.”
One such example of putting these principles to practice is Renewal SA’s Bowden development. It is the state government’s first higher density urban infill project located on 16 hectares of former industrial land overlooking the city’s western parklands. Designed to be a walkable urban neighbourhood with a focus on people walking or utilising the close by public transport options to reduce on-site car parking, once complete Bowden will be home to over 3500 residents in over 2400 dwellings and will include cafés, restaurants, offices, open spaces, parks and gardens.
In greater Adelaide the average distance to walk to an activity centre is 1245 metres compared to 1332 metres in Melbourne; 1482 metres in Brisbane; 1499 metres in Perth; and 1285 metres in Sydney. While Adelaide’s average distance is the lowest, as the distance living from the central business district (CBD) increases, so do the walking distances between housing and amenities/services.
The planning of Renewal SA’s Playford Alive project, located 30 kilometres north of Adelaide, is addressing this trend by delivering a healthy, active place to live with over 70 hectares dedicated to parks, wetlands and reserves. Extensive bike and walking trails plus dedicated sports grounds and facilities all contribute to supporting Playford Alive’s residents to live a healthy lifestyle.
Professor Giles-Corti’s team spent five years researching the links between urban design and wellbeing and released a report Creating Liveable Cities in Australia as well as score cards and priority recommendations for some of Australia’s capital cities.
According to the report, liveable communities are safe, attractive, socially cohesive and inclusive, and environmentally sustainable. They are linked by convenient public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure to employment, education, public open space, local shops, health and community services, and leisure and cultural opportunities.
Speaking after the event, Richard said Lot Fourteen had been designed to exemplify many of the features of liveable neighbourhoods.
“We are fortunate that Lot Fourteen is well serviced by public transport and walking and cycling paths for active commuting, while the neighbouring Adelaide Botanic Garden, city parklands and River Torrens, provide ample opportunities for recreation” he said.
Lot Fourteen is ideally located in the East End of Adelaide with some of the city’s best food and beverage and shopping options only a short walk away. Soon there will be more options on site, complementary to those available in the East End, for those who work in and visit the neighbourhood. Being in the CBD means health and community services are all close by.
Lot Fourteen is part of North Terrace, Adelaide’s picturesque cultural boulevard and home to leading universities, University of Adelaide and UniSA as well as the Art Gallery of South Australia, South Australian Museum and the State Library of South Australia.
“Renewal SA recognises the benefits of incorporating liveability and wellbeing in our developments and this is very much front of mind in planning and delivering Lot Fourteen.
“We are working to achieve Australia’s first WELL Community Standard pilot certification to promote individual and community wellbeing by creating a thoughtfully designed environment with flexible work spaces, opportunities for planned and incidental exercise and making social connections as well as other initiatives,” Richard said.
“It is also being developed as an environmentally sustainable community with the aim of achieving a 6 Star Green Star Communities certification for world leadership in sustainability from the Green Building Council of Australia. In addition, every building in the development will seek a 6 Star Green Star rating for its design and construction.”
Creating Liveable Cities in Australia is the first ‘baseline’ measure of liveability in Australia’s state and territory capitals and represents the culmination of five years of research.
About Renewal SA’s Future Thinkers series
This session was part of the Future Thinkers series presented by Renewal SA to help inspire a more connected, creative and innovative future in South Australia.
The series offers public talks featuring industry leaders and innovators gave South Australians an insight into how the future may look in many aspects of our lives, including urban living, technology and design.